King Alfred’s Book of Laws

A Study of the Domboc and Its Influence on English Identity, with a Complete Translation


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About the Book

During the early Middle Ages, King Alfred (reigned 871–99) gained fame as the ruler who brought learning back to England after decades of Viking invasion. Although analysis of Alfred’s canon typically focuses on his religious and philosophical texts, his relatively overlooked law code, or Domboc, reveals much about his rule, and how he was perceived in subsequent centuries. Joining major voices in the fields of early English law and literature, this exploration of King Alfred’s influential text traces its evolution from its 9th century origins to reappearances in the 11th, 12th, and 16th centuries. Alfred’s use of the vernacular and representation of secular practices, this work contends, made the Domboc an ideal text for establishing a particularly “English” national identity.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Todd Preston is an associate professor of English at Lycoming College. Specializing in Anglo-Saxon literature and the Old English language, he has published on topics ranging from the Exeter Book Riddles to Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls to Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Bibliographic Details

Todd Preston
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 183
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6588-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9104-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Kingship, Law, and National Identity in Ninth-Century Wessex      15
2. Reading the Laws: The Domboc in Its Earliest Context      35
3. Eleventh and Twelfth Century Redeployments of the Domboc      59
4. The Parker Circle, the Domboc, and Reformation National Identity      83

Conclusion      101
Reading the Domboc      105
King Alfred’s Domboc: Text and Translation      106
Notes      149
Works Cited      167
Index      175